Stuff and Things

I keep putting off writing a post – I’ll do it tomorrow, sort of thing – because most of what I’m going to post about is a little too light to bother about, so today can be a bit of a Random Thursday post, though it’s not really all that random: it’s sewing/fabric related, by and large.

On Wednesday, I received this really incredible swap package for the Flickr Fat Quarter Blender Swap:

FQ Blender Swap Received!

Love, love, love every bit of it. My swap partner really nailed it with this one – you might recall my saying the other day that I’ve been having a Pink moment? Yeah. These will fit right into the mix. I really love Painter’s Canvas (that’s the navy one), and would have it in every colour if I had the money to spend on it. The paper clips are just FUN and that aqua is really lovely.

I also received my swap package for a Livejournal swap, the Talk to Me Tuesday Pound of Love/Crafty Goodness swap, but I didn’t take pictures because I recorded a video. Just have to get the video off my phone and onto YouTube.

I recently mailed off stuff for that Livejournal swap and while I didn’t take pictures of most of what I sent, I did photograph the handmade bit, which was three pot holders:

Patchwork Potholders

I don’t know what sorts of colours my swap partner loves or what types of prints, so I pretty much just let myself go crazy with the scrap bags. I wanted to make something useful, but also beautiful, and hopefully I managed to accomplish that!

Pink Patchwork Potholder

I made this pink one first, more or less following the pattern in the book Zakka Style, which was compiled by Rashida Coleman-Hale (I hope I got her name right, I’m too lazy to go look it up…). The book uses the linen as the binding, which I should have done as it really ties the whole look together, but I didn’t want to cut a big old bias cut right through the middle of my Essex linen. So dark pink instead.

Patchwork Pot-holders

The pattern is for the kind of pot-holders that you can put your hand inside to pick things up, so they’re all done in that style. But I quilted the crap out of these things and even though they function as pot-holders (I tested them!), I was too scared to try holding a hot dish with them. I feel a bit like the super tight quilting clamped all the inner layers together so closely that it holds the heat too close to your hand (even though it does reflect it back up). I don’t know. There are 3 layers of fabric, a layer of cotton batting, and a layer of Insulbrite in each of these, but I was still nervous about it.

This teal one is probably my favourite, but I’m a big fan of teal/aqua. That extra bit of patchwork in the middle was in the scrap bag just like that – it was an off-cut from a quilt top I finished last year (but have never quilted…). Love it.

Chartreuse (I guess?) Patchwork Potholder

This chartreuse one was the last one I made. You can tell I haven’t really made much use of chartreuse in my sewing because I didn’t have too many options in my scrap bins – I had to slip in some other shades of green as well. This features my least favourite binding (I should have chosen a darker coloured print) and I think it knew I wasn’t happy with it, because it gave me all kinds of trouble. There are a couple little puckers, I had to sew the joining seam THREE times. Ridiculous.

Anyway, those are all en route to their new owner, who I hope will love them.

And finally – I need to go blow-dry my hair and get ready for work (I work midnight to 8:30 AM tonight!) – here’s the first block of my next project:

First block

It’s a shame my ironing board shows through, but I’m loving how this is looking. I’ve only got the one block finished, but I’m going to make 30 for the quilt top (it’s going to be a baby top) and hope to get it all together very quickly.

Baby quilt fabrics

These are all the print fabrics I’m going to use, but today I got them all sewed up into strip sets to cut into the block components. All pressed and ready to cut, and then I’ll start sewing them into blocks. I’m using 2.5″ wide strips (the white is a jelly roll), and the blocks come out to just a little bigger than 8.25″ square, though I’m trimming them down to 8 1/4. It’s a bit of an unusual size, but it’s convenient to start with the jelly roll strips, so there it is.

Oh, and finally, here is my September block for the Flickr Simply Solids group:

Simply Solids Aenous Sept. block

More churn dashes! They’re having a moment in the blogosphere.


Finish: Apple Potholders

A while ago I had my 111st post and I’d decided to do a secret giveaway, where anyone who commented would be entered into a draw and the winner was going to win something handmade by me, something probably kind of silly, but hopefully useful, I’d said. The winner was Carly at CitricSugar, and I figure it’s probably time I talk about what I sent her, because the package did arrive earlier this week.

Apple potholder/hot pads!


The pattern for these apples was adapted, kind of, from Ayumi Takahashi’s Patchwork, Please! book which came out earlier this year. I think a lot of you have probably read it – it’s been kind of big on the craft blog scene, which makes sense because it’s a cute book, with lots of fun little projects in it. It’s nice that everything in it is do DOABLE, but also so cute and useful while they’re at it. There are quite a few things in this book that I would like to make, which is more than I can saw for a lot of craft/quilting books. I’d decided a while ago to quit buying craft books and start borrowing them from the library first and this is the only book I’ve bought since then without reading it for free first. By and large I wasn’t disappointed by that choice, though I often find the pattern directions slightly mystifying – for instance, when you sew things right sides together, it usually if not always recommends sewing the entire way around, then unpicking part of the stitches to turn it right side out, which… why? – and I mentioned some time ago being frustrated by not being able to easily print the patterns (trying to get them onto a photocopier so that I could eventually blow up the pattern – by 143%, of all the ridiculous amounts) and how eventually I just ripped a page out of the book:

Pattern, Please?

The pattern I ripped out of the book was NOT the apple pattern, but a pattern for a hexagon potholder. Which I never did make. In the book, the apples are actually bibs, but as I have no use for apple bibs (and didn’t think Carly did either), but still wanted to make this ridiculously cute pattern, I converted them to potholders/hot pads.


I made the green hotpad first, and it’s truest to the book – it’s the same size as the bib, with the leaf made as suggested. You stitch together a front and back with right sides together, then flip it right-side out, and stitch it down. It was hard to do. I think I stitched around the outside of the leaf three times before I got it close enough to the edge to look good and not super jerky (because I was using a quarter inch foot and couldn’t really see where my stitches were going on that tiny space). So for the next two potholders, I decided to do a lazily embroidered leaf, rather than stitching one down:

Orange Apple Potholder

Not that those leaves are perfect either – I didn’t switch over to a darning foot/FMQ foot, so I had a really hard time making smooth curves with the machine. It was more successful than unsuccessful, but yeah. Not perfect.

For the second and third potholders, I upped the size a little. The green one is big enough to put a small pot on, or a coffee pot or something, but it is a little bit small for a hot pad, so I made the next two a little larger. They only ended up about 1/4-inch bigger all around, but they are a slightly nicer size for a pot holder.

Red Apple Potholder

By and large, I really enjoyed making these. I was glad to have an excuse to use some of that apple fabric (in all three shades I own!) and it can be really satisfying to make small things (quicker turn around, and I’m far more likely actually to finish them!) and I love giving things away and I got to practise a new technique.

Bound, Binding, Unbound

The new technique being bias binding. I’ve made projects before that should have used bias binding and I very stubbornly tried to do them with straight-grain binding (and naturally it looked like crap), but this time I decided to suck it up, princess and get on with it. It was really not so hard to work with, although I had varying levels of success with the dip in the top of the apple. It was great going around curves, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that dip look good. I think they all came out pretty well despite my lack of experience. I had to smush a lot of fabric up under the binding at that point, but it looks pretty smooth I think.

Apple Potholders

Inside of each potholder is a layer of Insulbrite and a layer of batting underneath that. They feel impossibly thin and I barely thought they’d actually function as potholders, but I put a hot casserole dish on one of them for a quite a while, and the counter top stayed cool, so it must have reflected the heat back up as it was suppose to.

Anyway, I think it’s as pretty fun thing to make, and a great way to mod the bib pattern, if you haven’t got little kids to put cute apple bibs on. (I do recommend making them larger than the bib size – add about half an inch all around and it should be big enough to use with most pots.)

I finished a thing!

I finished a thing this weekend, despite spending so much time working when I should have been sleeping and sleeping when I should have been sewing. (I have to work two weekends in a row this month! Not fun! I normally get alternating weekends off.)

I’m still not showing what that thing is, but a photo anyway:

Binding done

It pretty much looks like the last time I showed it, but, you know… it’s done this time!

It’s funny and annoying how often I change my mind when I’m working on things. Originally that pink mini with red binding was going to have binding that matched the pink fabric – I mean, it was the same fabric – but then I hated it when I looked at it from the front side, so I picked it all off and decided to go with a nice red dot, because that nice red dot fabric matched the front really well. And all was fine in the world, until I flipped the fabric over to the back to stitch it down and realized I hated the red dot against the pink back just as much as I’d hated that pink against the red on the front. Ugh. Well, I wasn’t picking it off again, so there it is. I don’t know what I’d have done instead, anyway. It’s not easy to find that sweet spot of mixing pink and red. They’re so close to one another, but they can look awfully awful together.

I wish I had more to show this week: I have two quilt blocks I desperately need to get finished and in the mail soon, but I haven’t got very far with either of them. One is for my Livejournal birthday blocks group – it’s a Card Trick block, in forest greens on cream, and I neither want to make that particular block nor want to make it with that mix of colours. I mean, that’s the way things fall sometimes when you’re working on stuff for other people, but all those half-square triangles are making me cringe in advance (generally I do them well, but I don’t very often WANT to). I really just need to sit down and bang it out, though. The other block is for Deanna at Little D and Me and is also a whole mess of triangles, though very very very different from the triangles in the Card Trick block! (If you go to her blog and scroll down to her April 24th post, you’ll see!) I’m both excited and scared to work on it, but I feel like I need some time to devote to it before I want to start working on it.

I should have had time today – I work six days this week, so I skipped out early from work today (since I could), and was home two hours earlier than usual. But my brother-in-law was home and playing obnoxiously loud music. I am the biggest baby going when it comes to loud music, so I decided I could either go to the library with my laptop and catch up on blogs or sit in the sun in the backyard and catch up on blogs. I went with the sun, and I sat there for two hours, and sunburned my arms. Nice! (Yeah, nice. Nice and painful, that is.)

After that I thought I’d better walk to the library and pick up some stuff that was being held for me and I picked up a couple of craft books while I was there – Sweet and Simple Patchwork Gifts by Hisako Arai and Yoko Sanjo, Jelly Roll Dreams by Pam and Nicky Lintott, and Embroidery for Little Miss Crafty by Helen Dardik.

On the way home, I went down by a pond in my neighbourhood and tried to take pictures of ducks:

Duck, duck, duck...

They swim away too fast!

Anyway, tomorrow I’m getting my hair cut and coloured, so I probably won’t have time to sew then either! Thursday, I guess! Hopefully I’ll have something worth showing then. In any case, more Doctor Who Stitch-A-Long tomorrow!

Giveaways, Bindings, and the Doctor… Doctor Who?

I’m feeling thwarted by Life, the Universe, and Everything right now. Or, anyway, an unbelievable exhaustion that had me coming home from work early on Monday so that I could sleep (seriously, who leaves work because they’re too tired? Who doesn’t drive heavy machinery, anyway…?). So. Tired.

But whatevs, today I’m going finally to:

1. Announce my Giveaway Winners
2. Talk Just a Tiny Bit More about Binding
3. Snicker about still not showing you the stuff I’ve been working on.

Actually, scratch that last one. Tomorrow I’m going to reveal the first bit of what I’ve been working on lately, so no point in gloating any more: the Doctor Who Stitch-a-Long is nearly here! (It’s a guaranteed post from me every Wednesday for the next 12 weeks! I’m not usually so predictable in my posting!)


I hope any of you Whovian Stitchers out there will join us! There will be monthly prizes throughout the course of the Stitch-a-long and a bigger prize at the end to be won by someone who completes all of the patterns.

So right, back to Number 1. Normally when I do a giveaway, I handwrite all the entrants names on squares of paper and put them all in a bucket and draw the winners name that way, but I had 250 people enter my giveaway! That’s a lot of names + locations + prize preferences (+ indentifying info, in the case of multiple Sarahs, Katys, and Patty/Pattis…). So this time I put all the information into Excel, printed out all the names + info, cut them up into thin strips, and drew names that way.


In this photo, the names in the basket are the Canadian/Intl. people, and the ones laying on the table are the Americans. The basket was too small, so I had to find an empty ice cream pail to draw the names, but that was less pretty, so I didn’t take a photo of that…

My first winner, to an International or Canadian entrant, was Kay:


It’s no surprise that she choose the fabric, since that was far (far far) and away the more popular of my two giveaway items! Sew, Mama, Sew is definitely a fabric lover’s paradise, more so than an embroidery lover’s one, anyway! I was a little afraid that my second winner wouldn’t be interested in the crewel kit at all, but luckily she was okay with that.

My second winner, drawn from all my entrants, was Patti:


I didn’t get to the post office on Monday (see: opening paragraph, also: life, the universe, and everything) and then forgot to take the packages with me to work today, but they’ll be off in the mail tomorrow to these lovely ladies.

Because I’m a bit of a nerd, I kept track of a few different things, and here are some interesting (to me) details about the people who entered this giveaway:

There were 330 total who entered, but only 250 left me their location. Of those 250 people, their countries of residence break down like this (barring me accidentally deleting info from my spreadsheet after I printed everything, once I started trying to consolidate data – I had some people down by State or Province, but others by US or Canada, and I’m pretty sure I messed some things up when I was trying to standardize what I’d typed in):
Australia – 19
Canada – 30
England – 3
Germany – 4
UK – 15
USA – 158

And with two entrants only: Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, and Spain. And with one entrant only: Brazil, Finland, France, Indonesia, Israel, New Caledonia, North Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Switzerland. It’s no surprise that an American won the second prize, since more than 60% of the people who entered were American.

Also of note to me where the books people mentioned as being favourites. Fifteen people mentioned author names only, which I won’t reproduce here, but the most popular mentions were Angela Walters and Elizabeth Hartman. (These were people whose names were mentioned unaccompanied by a title.) There were also 88 books mentioned. I won’t list all of those, but these were the ones that had more than one mention:

Sunday Morning Quilts – 12 mentions
Doodle Stitching – 10 (inc. one for The Motif Collection, which is the second book in the series)
Patchwork, Please – 6
Material Obsession – 5
Modern Patchwork (Elizabeth Hartman) – 4
Modern Quilting (Gering & Pederson) – 4
One Yard Wonders – 4
Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters – 3
Improv Sewing – 3
Little Stitches (Aneela Hoey) – 3
Quilts from the House of Tula Pink – 3
Assorted Schnibbles books – 3
Scrap Basket Surprise – 3
Zakka Style – 3
Amy Butler’s Bag Book (sorry, I don’t know the title) – 2
Angela Walter’s FMQ book (see above) – 2
Farmer’s Wife Sampler – 2
Martha Stewart’s Fabric Crafts – 2
Practical Guide to Patchwork (Hartman) – 2
Pretty in Patchwork Holidays – 2

I was a little surprised by some of these – I thought Elizabeth Hartman would have more total mentions, for example, as I know her blog is enormously popular.

Okay. Jibber jabber.

Item the second. Did I say a few days ago that I was going to have some binding done by Monday?

Bound, Binding, Unbound

Yeah, okay. Maybe by the weekend. I called this photo Bound, Binding, Unbound because that’s pretty much where they’re at. Green is done, orange is 80% done, and the red… well, it’s sewn onto the front, at least! It seems to be taking me much, much longer than binding regular quilts. I’m finding it a bit awkward trying to deal with such a small piece, it’s somehow harder to get a good grip on it or something.

Anyway, that’s it and that’s all. Tomorrow, the Doctor.

Banner Mail Week

I had a kind of banner mail week last week, but I had a week where every thing seemed to take all the time ever and I didn’t manage to accomplish much of anything like, say, posting about my brilliant mail or taking photos. For instance, I recorded a video about it, but didn’t get any further than transferring the file to my computer. Hopefully I’ll get it edited in time for next Tuesday.

Anyway, a little while back I won a giveaway for pot-holders made by Michelle of Factotum of Arts. I got to choose between two different sets and I picked these fantastic green ones with a brilliant chicken print in the centre.

Chicken Pot Holders

LOVE! I haven’t used them, but I’d hate to get them dirty, so I don’t know if I ever will! I LOVE the chicken print on these, but also the linen (?) on the back and the dot print is pretty fantastic as well. Thanks so much, Michelle!

The other package I received was from my Modern Scrappy Bits Swap on flickr. I haven’t got pictures of all the fabric that Deanna of Little D and Me because I filtered it all into my scrap bins before thinking to take a picture, but to be honest I was so in love with the hand-made portion of the swap that I barely paid attention to the fabric scraps.

She made me a Doctor Who fabric basket.

Bigger on the Inside

How absolutely brilliant is that? When I saw this basket show up in the group flickr photostream, I’d really hoped it would be for me – I’d mentioned a love of DW – but I didn’t want to hope too much because I didn’t want the disappointment if it had turned out to be for someone else.


I’m rather irritated to discover that I left the notecard in the other room because I’d love to tell you about Deanna’s reasons for choosing the fabrics inside the basket – I recall that the dots were because travelling through time and space would leave her seeing spots and I think the swirls were to represent the dizziness of doing so, and then the starry print near the bottom is to represent space itself. She also said that the text prints were gibberish, but that she translated them for me, to read Bigger on the Inside.

So awesome. I was so very pleased to get that in the mail, I can’t even begin to say 😀 Thank you, thank you Deanna!